Archive for December, 2011

Artist of the moment….. Donna Howell Sickles…….


this artist is very popular among western art collectors.  She  specializes in the cowgirl and also horses. Working in mixed media such as pastels and acrylics on paper or canvas the artist makes me think of a 60s pop artist painting western scenes. You don’t get the feeling of a rough and rugged cowboy smoking a cigarette. I get the feeling of a beautiful princess out for a ride on her precious horse.  Rather than the browns, grays, and greens of an Andrew Wyeth of Howard Terpning ( my favorite western genre artist) the artist loves to saturate a scene with exaggerated color. Giving the piece action and movement.

The artist was born in 1949. She became interested in the cowgirl image after seeing a vintage postcard in 1972 of a scene from the 1930s. The cowgirl had ruby red lips and sat proudly and happily atop her horse. She started becoming interested in the cowgirl images in an art trade with a classmate.

The artist was even inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame for her “cowgirl” portraits. This happened in 2007. You can go to her website at this address below.

The artist is based out of Dallas, Texas. I enjoy looking at her work as it makes me think of perfect summer and spring days saturated with color. The days that make you so happy to involved with ranching and horseback riding. Also simple compositions of just one or few characters. In some of the narrative paintings so many people reacting at once its sometimes tough to get a feeling, I get an instant feeling of happiness looking at the artist’s work.

This magazine is called “True West.”  For the first time in history they put a woman artist on the cover and it was Donna Howell Sickles.  Below is a corresponding interview with the artist.

Keep learning!







Great art event to check out… least on line…..


every year in Bruges, Belgium an international ice and snow festival is held. This years theme was Disneyland Paris at Christmas time. The event is now in its ninth season! Awesome!

The show runs from November 25 of 2011 until January 12, 201.

Via this website you can go on a virtual tour, it helps you get a feel of the many 10 hour days these artists put in to achieve these great results. Her is a 13 minute clip on the incredible sculptures that were made for display this year.

Below is the website for the festival, be sure and check out the reality tour!

These artists are incredible. I am sure anyone who grew up around snow as a kid made a snowman. This is snow and ice at an adult skill level. Fantastic. Also at this time is an ice sculpture show in Germany that has to do with a circus themes. I was unable to find a good article however to report about it. Besides, I love the Disney characters more. Fun to see characters from the Jungle Book or Toy Story done in ice and life size!

Keep learning!  The fun is in the process, not the end goal whatever it may be.

Enjoy the Holiday Season.





DVD and Art Lesson Review….. Caricature and illustrator Jim Van Der Keyl….


I would like these posts to be more of a forum. If you have seen the DVD or lesson in question please write in and tell the forum your experience. A sort of yelp!.com but with no advertising! Just sincere honest opinions.

This collection of lessons( I bought them on VHS tape back in 2003) was what I used to become a professional caricature artist living in Las Vegas.

These lessons are perfect for the person looking to learn how to draw the human face. The first lesson is on the one minute caricature. It was true after 2 weeks of watching the tape I could easily draw a face in profile view.   The lesson concentrates on seeing the different shapes of eyes, hair, mouth and nose. The second lesson deals with drawing the 3/4 view. The company I worked for Las Vegas,, only 1 out of 20 artists drew the 3/4 view.  The rest, myself included, drew the straight front on view. But the second lesson teaches what to look for when drawing adults, women (less lines involved) and children (less lines and big forehead)
The first two lessons can teach you how to draw a face, but watch them at least every other day to have quick results.  If you try to learn how to draw the straight front on view you can practice by watching the weather channel or a news channel and drawing the likenesses only during the time the guests are interviewed. The lesson applied from the second lesson come in handy even when drawing the front view. My only complaint with drawing only the 3/4 view is that the artist has to deal with perspective as well as getting the likeness.


For instance if someone were drawing a person with almond shaped eyes. Drawing from the front view you can make them the same size. If drawing a 3/4 view you must drop the eye furthest from the viewer back with perspective.

After learning how to draw a good likeness, be sure and practice kids and beautiful women, the third lesson teaches you the fine art of exaggeration. Squash and stretch. Exaggerating a main feature such as the chin on Jay Leno or the hair of Susan Sarandon. In  the third lesson the artist does some sketching and painting of famous people. The best part of the lesson is getting to watch the entire drawing process take place. From beginning 5 inch sketches to finished ideas complete with color using an airbrush, watercolor, or colored pencil. Among some stars featured are Arnold Schwartzenagger, Arsenio Hall, Barbara Streisland, Liz Taylor, and Princess Diana. Really great sketches to learn from as you can draw a celebrity then compare it to the ones the artist did.


Also has a website. For me too much info on here. Not easy to get around as page loads take forever. Very informative as the artist first started appearing in the back of art magazines back in the 90s.    (long time to load)

For scoring I give the lessons 5 out of 5 brushes! A perfect score. Mr. Van Der Keyl is a great teacher and these lessons are just perfect for a beginner or intermediate to drawing the face. He uses simple shapes to achieve a great likeness quickly.

I will try to review at least one lesson per week, please leave comments if you have watched the DVD and want to give a review.

Happy drawing!


Artist of the moment…..Dennis Wojtkiewicz



this artist has really made a name for himself in the art world  this past year.  You might have seen his still life paintings in the magazine American Art Collector. He is known for painting the fruit still life, but sliced fruit. The artist says its so that the fruit then looks very similar to stained glass.  The artist is a great handler of paint and technique, and the compositions are very new to the art world. I had seen sliced fruit on a table or on a plate, the artist has really changed the idea of a still life by zeroing in on one or two slices and painting the translucency of the fruit. Such a high level of painting in these works.


Similar to the ceramic artist I mentioned some posts back, I look very closely at the patterns of toilet paper now, this artist has caused me to look more closely at slices of fruit. Using fun shapes for the fruit slices and then painting the see effect at a very high level.

Just recently the artist has been working on floral paintings. Close cropped shots of just one flower, no messing with a face or really a background. Please appreciate the scale of size this artist uses also. Many times on a square format the paintings are four feet by four feet. Many  times on the citrus series or melon the pieces are 72 inches on the long side!

This artist is very inspirational for me and has taught me to go into detail sometimes on a floral. Ideally I want to be able to paint as loose as Sargent or as tight as Wyeth.

The paintings are first done in monochrome then many layers of paint, 10 to 12 layers in fact. His master of influence is Vermeer. The composition and his painting of light are a huge influence on the artist.  His artist statement is that he trying to achieve something simple, with a complicated process.

The artist received a M.F.A. from the University of Illinois in Drawing and Painting in 1981. In 1977 and 78 he studied at an atelier in France. Well done!

Try an oversize floral today, you will become more aware of the many small shapes seen in the petals.

Happy painting!



Artist of the moment….. William Edouard Scott….


this artist was a great African American painter of last century. Like one of his idols Henry Ossawa Tanner, moved to Europe to gain not only crucial experience from the scholars but also to exhibit art as an artist, not as a NEGRO artist.In his many works he painted minorities in more prominent positions than just a slave or maid.

The artist was born in Indiana in 1884. At the age of twenty the artist moved to Chicago. He painted many murals around the city and the most famous of these is called “Commerce” By painting minorities in high class jobs and not just slave he hoped to start a movement of the races and equality.

Went to France and studied with Henry O. Tanner. Then began an art career. This was done in Europe as the United States was still caught in racism so it was would have been very difficult for him to have a career in the arts in this country.

The artist also visited Haiti for many years. Among his favorite scenes to paint were the local markets. The composition on these works is tremendous.  The viewer gets the impression that people are in motion.  In 1950 he painted a wonderful masterpiece titled “Haitian Markets.”

For portraits the artist painted great images of Frederick Douglass.

The artist was heavily influenced by Henry Ossawa Tanner but race didn’t play as much a part of his works as American artists that were black. He started his career in Europe and it was hard for Europeans to get a handle on looking at race first, rather than just part of someone. It was the time of Josephine Baker and Henry Ossawa Tanner so Europeans cared more about the talent of the artist rather than their skin color.

The artist died in Chicago in 1964.

The best attribute of this artist for me is his design and composition skills, FANTASTIC.




Art Auction Alert….. Tony Bennett drawing of Lady Gaga…

interesting news here, the singer and painter Tony Bennett has a piece on Ebay of  a drawing he made of Lady Gaga.  The sale ends December 19th and the last I looked the current bid was $13,600.  100% of the proceeds will go to both artist’s charities.

Mr. Bennett has a new album out titled “Duets II”   The duet he sang with Lady Gaga was ” Lady is a Tramp.” Mr. Bennett did the piece of the much younger Lady Gaga while she was posing for famed photographer  Annie Liebovitz for a magazine cover. The drawing is done in charcoal.

Even if you don’t bid be sure and check back often as its fun to watch the bidding and interest increase. When I first looked this morning the art was priced at $9,000. Now it is $13,600. Awesome, don’t forget the bidding ends December 19th. The link to the auction is below.

The picture is below and I included a link to the actual ebay auction.





Artist of the moment…… Tony Bennett….


Yes I mean the singer! The artistic side of Mr. Bennett extends to visual arts as well. A great painter working in oils but mainly in watercolor. He even has come books out with collections of his art. His paintings include  cities and countries he has visited as well as still lifes and skyscapes. He is really diverse in his subject matter. If you look at his still lifes he did some tea pots that showed a high degree of difficulty with the reflections of the surrounding objects. THIS AUDIO ARTIST CAN PAINT! Make no mistake about it.  His painting of the fabric in the still lifes is also of very high quality.

He paints under the name Benedetto Arts and much of the money it generates goes right to charity. The artist currently has a piece on Ebay showing Lady Gaga that I will write about next post!

For me the artist is best at capturing the feeling of landscapes.

The artist formed this LLC company showing his works and paintings and dealing with sales and promotion. The company is based in New York City.

The artist was born in 1926 and grew up in the Astoria and New York City areas.

The artist is just a great gift to the art world as a whole. His art sales have helped out many charities. On my next entry I will include a drawing that is currently up for sale.

The clip below shows Mr. Bennett giving an interview talking about his love of producing visual art.

Be Inspired!




A great opportunity for figure artists working with the male figure…..

I will post from time to time opportunities for artists. Not the normal contests that cost $15 to $50 to enter and then if selected you have to buy a frame and pay shipping. The goal here is to find opportunities for little cost that can bring wide exposure to the artist.

This is a great opportunity to work with firehouse publications. They are looking for writers and figure artists, that work at least 50% of the time with the male figure to help them produce a quarterly book on the male figure in art. Below is a showing of the book on amazon. It seems to be of great use to the artist and receives great reviews. This is a large publishing company so this might lead to another job with another publication with the company.


It doesn’t cost anything to apply. Email them that you are interested, send a sample, you will get a quick response. I was interested in another opportunity the company listed but it had closed already. They responded to email within a few hours.

Its very frustrating to spend hours on end working on a piece or making a portfolio for a specific company and you NEVER hear back. They say they are too busy but the artist probably put in 40 hours making the piece so they can spend 15 seconds typing a response.  Sometimes the artist even pays to ship some samples via a cd.  We as artists deserve to know if our work fits the task at hand or if it doesn’t let us know what we can change.

Enough rambling, the link for this company is below. GOOD LUCK! Please let me know if you have success!



Artist of the moment…. Denis Nolet

Quick slideshow of the artists work set to music is below.

this artist specializes in painting figures. He is known for painting couples kissing or hugging and using very limited lighting.

Mr. Nolet was born in Quebec, Canada in 1964. The young artist immersed himself early on in life with art and was able to become successful at art at the age of 20.

His brushwork is very light and in fact the paint quality when finished looks like a very smooth fabric rather than paint.

I am sure like myself you noticed the artist has design skills similar to a Thomas Kinkade, using vibrant color shapes in the negative spaces and backgrounds and animated the movement of the human elements of the picture. The figures seem to move on their own the line work is so good! Using silhouettes also helps keep the viewer intrigued in the art as one can ponder what the face really looks like.

If you had only two words to describe the artist’s works the words “romantic urbanism” comes to mind.

Try painting some figures embracing and see what you come up with. Then watch some old Disney movies and compare the two!

Happy painting!



Artist of the moment…. Matthew Day Jackson….


I enjoy this artist’s work as he can express his feelings in many mediums. Many times using found objects and turning them into fantastic portraits.

The artist now lives in Brooklyn.  Received a BFA from University of Washington in Seattle. Masters degree from Rutgers University.

Loves to use symbols that remind the viewer of history and important times in the world.

Its refreshing to see a new outlook on the portrait and figure and the added twist of something historical in the pieces makes them even more fun to look at and ponder.

He paints, sculpts, draws, uses photography, and makes videos. What a creative genius! Much of his work is dedicated to the American Dream and the lengths people will go to accomplish this goal.

Much of the work is based on iconic imagery from the 60s and 70s.

An interview with the artist from earlier in 2011 with two commentators.

Some of the artist’s works. This clip lasts 7 minutes or so.

A one minute clip showing some art from a  piece made to look like a flyover from a war zone in 1945. What creativity!

I encourage you to try adding some encaustic or trying a new medium. This new medium may even help you to express yourself better!

Be inspired to create!

Happy Painting!







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